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How To Use WordPress Autosave And Post Revisions

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after spending a great deal of time and effort composing an article, something happens and you suddenly find that all of your hard work is now lost because you forgot to hit the ‘Save’ button as you went along?

If this ever happens and you use WordPress, then worry not! WordPress has a powerful autosave and post revision function that:

In this step-by-step tutorial, we will show you how to use the autosave and post recovery function of WordPress to recover your pages and posts.

The WordPress Autosave & Revisions Feature: Step-By-Step Tutorial

Generally, after saving a post or page, a confirmation message like this will display …

(Edit Post – Post updated successfully!)

Things can and do go wrong, however. For example:

When this happens and you try to save your work, you might end up seeing a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ like this instead …

(Failure Notice – WordPress)

If you see the message “Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again” displayed and click on ‘Please try again’, you will normally return to a screen displaying an earlier version of your post, minus any recent changes.

This is where the autosave feature of WordPress becomes really handy.

The Autosave Feature Of WordPress

In WordPress, autosaves are automatically enabled for all posts and pages, but this does not overwrite any content that has already been published.

By default, posts are autosaved to the database every 60 seconds. This time interval can be changed by adding code to your wp-config.php file.

Always make a full backup of your website before making any modifications to website files.

If you don’t feel confident editing files inside your web server, then get in touch. We’ll be glad to help you.

If you have been working on your post for a while and something happens (e.g. your browser crashes), you could see a warning like this when you return to editing your post or page …

(Edit Post – Autosave notification)

Click on ‘View the autosave’ …

(Autosave notification)

You will be taken to the Compare Revisions feature panel where a previously saved version of your post can be recovered …

(Compare Revisions interface)

Click ‘Restore This Autosave’ …

(WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content)

Autosave recovers the content you were editing …

(Autosave restores your latest post)

WordPress Autosave – Additional Information

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, your login session will simply expire …

(Session expired)

If your login session expires, WordPress remembers where you were, so when you log in again, you can continue working from where you left off …

(Session expired notice)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are looking at is different from the version you see in the editor and gives you the opportunity to restore the autosaved backup.

(Restore backup of post saved in browser)

Click Restore the backup

(Browser backup)

The content will be restored from your browser backup …

(Post restored successfully!)

Content Recovery – Loss Of Internet Connection

WordPress can also help you recover content if you lose your internet connection …

(Recover content if you lose your internet connection)

Another improvement made after v. 4.6 is content recovery from loss of connection. If you lose your internet connection while writing, your drafts are saved locally to your browser. When you return to edit, WordPress notifies you if there is a more recent draft, allowing you to restore the most recent version of your content …

(Content recovery after loss of internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)

WordPress Post Revisions – What Is It?

The Post Revisions feature was introduced to WordPress in version 2.6. Whenever a page or post is saved in WordPress, a revision of that post is automatically created and stored in your WordPress database.

Significant improvements were made to the WordPress revision management system after WP v. 3.6.

The new WordPress revision system also added a new option to the Publish box called Revisions. This allows you to immediately see how many revisions you have made to your content. Click ’Browse’ to bring up the ‘Compare Revisions’ feature panel …

(Publish Box – Revisions)

The Revisions interface appears on your screen …

(Revisions screen)

Note: This function is available for both Posts and Pages.

How To Compare Revisions

A Revision Slider allows you to move through different saved revisions. The more revisions you have saved, the longer the slider will be …

(The more revisions, the longer the slider)

Revisions created by making changes to content and updating pages or posts show up in the slider in black, along with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …


When WordPress automatically saves pages or posts, your revisions display in the slider highlighted in red, with the save interval, time, and date of the post revision …

(Autosave revision slider)

WordPress Post Revision Management – How to Use The Revision Slider

You can navigate between adjacent post revisions by moving the revision slider left (older) or right (newer) …

(Move the revision slider to the right or left)

There are also buttons to assist with navigation.

Click ‘Previous’ to browse past versions …

(Compare Revisions – ‘Previous’ button)

Click ‘Next’ to view more recent versions …

(Click ‘Next’ to view more recent revisions)

You can also compare two different revisions by ticking the ‘Compare any two revisions’ check box …

(’Compare any two revisions’ option)

This lets you adjust two sliders independently to compare any two saved revisions …

(Compare any two post revisions)

Select the revision you want to restore and click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …

(‘Restore This Revision’ button)

To exit and go back to the content editor without making any changes, click on the title of your page/post …

(Click the title link to go back)

You can also exit by clicking Return to editor

(Compare Revisions – return to post editor)

WordPress Post Revisions Management – Additional Information

As mentioned earlier, there are some changes you can make to the WordPress revisions feature such as changing the autosave interval or disabling the feature altogether, but these generally require modifying server files. If you are concerned about working with files inside your server, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

Let’s focus, then, on some additional areas of WordPress revisions function that don’t require editing code.

Post Editor Screen – View The WordPress Post Revisions List

As soon as you update your posts/pages, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. These are displayed in a Revisions box at the bottom of the post or page …

(Post Editor screen – The WordPress post revisions list)

If the Revisions list isn’t visible, click on the Screen Options  tab at the top of your screen …

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

Select the box next to ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section …

(Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You will now see the Revisions box displayed under your content. Clicking any of the links will bring up the Revisions panel …

(Post Editor: Revisions Box)

Revision Management WordPress Plugins

Autosave and revisions are no doubt functions that help create a more effective workflow. If you write or edit extensively, however, the number of revisions can start to build up. This can significantly increase the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to also be able to manage your revisions.

(As post revisions accumulate, your database could be storing lots of unnecessary data)

For example, if there are 200 posts published on your site with an average of 10 revisions each your database could be storing up to 3,000 copies of unnecessary data. If your post averages 100KB data, then with 3,000 revisions, the total space wasted is about 300MB.

The good news is that there are several plugins for WordPress to help you control and manage your revisions and reduce the size of your database.

To learn more about WordPress plugins that will help you manage your post revisions, go here:

Congratulations! Now you know how to use the WordPress Revisions feature to recover older page/post revisions.


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